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Genetic interaction of an origin recognition complex subunit and the Polycomb group gene MEDEA during seed development.

Collinge M.A., Spillane C., Kohler C., Gheyselinck J., Grossniklaus U.

The eukaryotic origin recognition complex (ORC) is made up of six subunits and functions in nuclear DNA replication, chromatin structure, and gene silencing in both fungi and metazoans. We demonstrate that disruption of a plant ORC subunit homolog, AtORC2 of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), causes a zygotic lethal mutant phenotype (orc2). Seeds of orc2 abort early, typically producing embryos with up to eight cells. Nuclear division in the endosperm is arrested at an earlier developmental stage: only approximately four nuclei are detected in orc2 endosperm. The endosperm nuclei in orc2 are dramatically enlarged, a phenotype that is most similar to class B titan mutants, which include mutants in structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) cohesins. The highest levels of ORC2 gene expression were found in preglobular embryos, coinciding with the stage at which homozygous orc2 mutant seeds arrest. The homologs of the other five Arabidopsis ORC subunits are also expressed at this developmental stage. The orc2 mutant phenotype is partly suppressed by a mutation in the Polycomb group gene MEDEA. In double mutants between orc2 and medea (mea), orc2 homozygotes arrest later with a phenotype intermediate between those of mea and orc2 single mutants. Either alterations in chromatin structure or the release of cell cycle checkpoints by the mea mutation may allow more cell and nuclear divisions to occur in orc2 homozygous seeds.

Plant Cell 16:1035-1046(2004) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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